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Congress Cares About Camo

It seems someone clued Congress in on the fact that the Universal Camouflage Pattern issued to troops fighting in Afghanistan is far from the ideal. So Congress has told the Army to issue something better. Well, the first word in UCP is after all “Universal” and that makes it a compromise since it has to blend in everywhere. Oddly, Afghanistan is not monochrome and there are a variety of environments to blend in with so ultimately a “Universal” camouflage is what is called for after all. Maybe it just needs to be tuned a bit.

Here is the wording from the Conference Committee Report.
“The conferees understand that soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have serious concerns about the current combat uniform which they indicate provides ineffective camouflage given the environment in Afghanistan. Accordingly, the conferees direct that within funding made available the Department of Defense take immediate action to provide combat uniforms to personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.

The conferees further direct the Secretary of the Army to provide a report on the program plans and budgetary adjustments necessary to provide appropriate uniforms to deployed and deploying troops to Afghanistan. The report shall be submitted to the congressional defense committees by the end of fiscal year 2009.”

So Congress wants the Army to reprogram money “immediately” to provide an alternative camo pattern for forces in Afghanistan and report to the Armed Services Committees before the end of the fiscal year on it will be accomplished. Can you imagine how this went over when word reached PEO-Soldier? “The jig is up, they’re on to us”.

Now please remember, that this still isn’t law. The President hasn’t signed it YET but is expected to soon.

So how will this play out? Interesting question, considering when asked just weeks ago at the Soldier Systems APBI about the possibility of alternative camouflage patterns, PEO-Soldier officials gave a curt, “No”. However, it has come to our attention that the 173d Airborne Brigade has been granted approval to wear Multicam during their OEF rotation. So that option seems open…maybe. Alternatively, it is highly unlikely that any new SOCOM patterns will be used by general purpose forces. 3-color desert pattern is still available but was replaced by the “superior” UCP so institutional momentum may veto its use. Desert MARPAT is a possibility, if the Army can wade through the interservice rivalry issues. And finally, what about an entirely new pattern, or old for that matter? Several promising designs were tested by Natick in the 2003-2004 time frame before UCP was adopted virtually out of nowhere.

Ultimately, it is going to be about cost. It isn’t just uniforms. There are a variety of other equipage and accouterments that must also be produced in an alternative pattern. And all of this while the Army is still in the throes of a complete roll out of the UCP pattern. Who will foot the bill? Congress has essentially issued budgetary guidance to the Army to reprogram funds.

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5 Responses to “Congress Cares About Camo”

  1. [...] since Congress told the Army that Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP) used on the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) wasn’t cutting [...]

  2. [...] Produced by Massif, manufacturers of the ACS, the Government design features hard knee pads developed by Crye Precision. They are made from 7.3-ounce, fire-resistant twill and offer a reinforced, stretchable seat. This last feature was added since so many Soldiers have to slide down steep slopes in mountainous regions. Limited User Evaluations (LUE) were completed earlier this year in Georgia and West Virginia. Further tests are scheduled for FY10 in Afghanistan but who knows what will happen now due to the Congressional monkey wrench. [...]

  3. [...] too late. This horse has been out of teh barn for awhile but it does seem that the hoopla over the Army’s use of UCP in Afghanistan has attracted some thoughtful analysis. Interestingly, this is essentially these are the same [...]

  4. [...] light of an impending directive from Congress to the Army to get their camo house in order, rumors continue to circulate about an upcoming test [...]

  5. [...] be like showing up to a black tie function dressed for a costume ball, only deadlier. So answering Congressional concerns over Army camo in Afghanistan may not be as simple as “replace UCP”. It is highly likely that logisticians (and [...]